October 30, 2014
Regardless of whether you are an avid fan of Halloween and spend the month of October recreating the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp in your front yard (easy to do in Seattle this time of year) or skeptical of the entire celebration as a gimmicky way for the dentists of the world to get more patients – it is a holiday that comes round once a year and you simply can’t avoid it.
Personally I loved Halloween when my boys were young. I would always challenge them to come up with original costumes and not copy the 25 other children who wanted to be Death carrying a sickle or Luke Skywalker. Consequently over the years I delighted in the parade of characters through my house who channeled: The tooth fairy, a bunch of grapes, a detective, Zorro, The Ghost Of Ronald Reagan, Ichiro (this from my blond bombshell son who had to spend four hours washing black hair dye from his hair afterward – but he looked adorable!) a tennis ball, lions, a nerd, a leprechaun and two very authentic Harry Potters. (Okay, Harry Potter is mainstream now – but at the time Prodigy #1 was only in Kindergarten and he had already read himself the first two books so he was pretty original for his age and when Prodigy #2 wanted to be Harry later on we already owned all the costume parts so why argue?)
In retrospect it all seems so fun and joyful. I think Halloween with children may be a bit like childbirth. It all seems so warm and fuzzy looking back at the photos, but in the moment it is pure hell. Finding all the accessories and costume pieces for over excited children, baking peanut free/sugar-free/gluten-free snacks for classroom parties, hot gluing costumes back together through the trials and tribulations of a zany day, trying to entice young boys with “real food” in the hopes of some sort of vague nutrition on a super sugar holiday, attempting futilely to make costumes waterproof and warm before the youngsters leave the house while they screamed that you were “ruining their costume and no one would know what they were now!”. Ah the memories.
And then there was pumpkin carving in which small children flail around with sharp objects and spew orange organic matter in a 360 degree diameter around the kitchen. At my house, pumpkin carving duty fell squarely on my Usually Lovely Husband. If we would have had a prenup I would have added that due to my pathetic artistic abilities and my personal abhorrence of cold glutinous pumpkin waste under my fingernails, I was excused from any activity involving the dissection of anything from the squash family. He brought this responsibility on himself. The first year we were dating and we carved pumpkins with my roommate – she and I hacked faces into our pumpkins resembling the work of three-year olds. He carved an entire haunted house scene with differing layers of pumpkin depth and amazing details and won a contest at the office. I knew he was my destiny – because this truly meant I would never have to carve a pumpkin again.
Sidebar: My U.L.H. is out cheerfully carving a jack o lantern at this very second while I swill wine and type on my keyboard. I am incredulous that he #1 – he requested I buy a pumpkin for him to carve and #2 that he slaughtered, dismembered and made a cute face on the thing in less than ten minutes with no mess in my kitchen. Who does that?
Second sidebar: Thirty years ago when he carved that first pumpkin with my roommate and I, he also fixed our rental’s dilapidated vacuum cleaner and put a new plug on our blender. Clearly this man was a keeper.
Now that my darling boys are twenty and sixteen, the antics and spice of Halloween take on a different dimension. My sixteen year old is melancholic for the days of costumes and candy. He and his friends may very well show up at your door in a slapdash potpourri of odd clothing hoping they don’t look like adults. They are yearning for the days when people told them they were cute rather than glaring at them and asking, “Aren’t you too old for this?” If you see them or anyone else their age – try to be forgiving and smile at them instead. It’s not so easy to grow up in this day and age and we rush our kids into adulthood far too quickly.
I am fairly sure I don’t even want to know what Halloween shenanigans my twenty year old is involved in at his fraternity. There are some things parents should just never know. I do know that I turned his blood to ice and gave him haunted Halloween heart palpitations yesterday when he thought that his mother had started following his twitter feed.
The scene played out like this. I was home playing around on Word Press trying to get the gumption to invite friends to “follow” this new-found blogging passion. Word Press is the somewhat nuanced program I am attempting to use to kick-start this writing career and it gave me the option to link to Twitter. My logical thought process was “Sure why not? Maybe I will find more readers. Right?” So I clicked yes.
Not twenty seconds later my phone buzzes. It is Offspring #1 texting me from his University across the state.
Son #1, “Mom. Do you have a Twitter?”
I was incredulous. Being the sort of mother I am, I decide to make him sweat a bit before I responded. The phone buzzed again three minutes later.
Son #1, “Seriously Mom. Where are you? I need to know if you are on Twitter?”
By this time I was cracking up. Obviously he was entering twilight zone panic mode.
I finally replied back, “I have a blog which apparently has a Twitter feed.”
Son #1, “I’m not going to lie Mom. I blocked you. I don’t want you on my Twitter.”
Me, “I have no idea how to twit. I don’t even know how to get into Twitter.”
Son #1, “Well then you are fine. I suggest not getting into it. It’s pointless”.
At this point I ruminated silently on how to point out the irony of this text exchange. But he’s twenty and subtlety is lost on him.
So this Halloween I intend to enjoy every child who comes to my door trick or treating regardless of height and costumed attire. I will toast the disheveled parents who are dragging behind carrying flashlights and umbrellas and wearing weary haggard expressions. I will revel in the photos that my family members will text me of my greatest nieces and nephews in their adorable costumes. In my heart I will carry a little ache that my babies aren’t part of the parade any longer, but then I will close the door to the cold and top off my wine glass and smile to myself knowing that somewhere another Mommy is making memories.
PS – If you are one of the nice persons who received an invitation to “follow” me in the past few days – thank you for clicking YES! I encourage you to read my past blogs as well. They may have been better than this one!